Schenectady, taproot of American history

(From E. S. Ellis, History of Our Country. Vol. 1 (Indianapolis, IN: J. H. Woolling & Co.) .

Just found a terrific short piece on Schenectady by John Leland at the University of Houston, here. He says:

Schenectady nests in a bend of the Mohawk River at the head of the Mohawk Valley, just west of the confluence of the Mohawk and the Hudson. In the seventeenth century, this is where Indian and Colonial trade goods moved by canoe.

By then, New York was the home of the vast Iroquois Federation of five nations: The Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. The Tuscaroras would soon move up from North Carolina and become the sixth. French, English, Dutch and other colonists were living along the Hudson and Mohawk. The name Schenectady came from a Mohawk phrase for beyond-the-pine-plains — S’quan-ho-hac-ta-de.

The town was first built by Dutch settlers in the mid-17th century. It was the Wild West three-and-half centuries ago — traders and tradesmen on the far frontier of Colonial America, living in an uneasy balance with the diverse Iroquois.

A British garrison moved in among the Dutch to protect trading British interests in 1670 — one more red flag in the face of the French. Twenty years later two-hundred French and Indians burned Schenectady to the ground, killed sixty people, took 27 captives and freed the remains of the town’s hundred or so occupants.

Don’t want to excerpt more. Go read.

The Erie Canal at Schenectady
(from The Water Ways of New York (Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, vol. 48: no. 283, Dec. 1873))

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